What you don’t know about collections can hurt your credit score.
Here are two facts most people don’t know:
1) The balance does not affect your credit score.
Whether you owe $100 or $10,000, it makes no difference in your credit score. A collection is a collection is a collection. Why?
Because a large balance might indicate a person has a high income; whereas, a small balance might indicate a person had a low credit card limit and therefore has a low income. Since it is illegal to consider income for credit scoring, the credit reporting agencies are barred from making a difference in score due to the balance.
This is important to know, because if you’re thinking your score will go up as you pay down the balance, you are in for a disappointment. The only way you will get your score to go up is by the collection aging older and older, until eventually it is off your report. (Unless you get it removed early.)
2) Paying off a collection will lower your credit score.
This is counter-intuitive and unfair. Nevertheless, that is the way the system is set up. As per above, your score cannot go up by lowering your balance on a collection account. On top of that, when you make a payment it updates the “Date of Last Activity” (DLA) to current, and that reduces your score.
A lot of good people try to do the right thing by paying off an old collection account — and then they are penalized for it!
The Best Way to Handle a Collection Account
If your collection account is old, then let it age off.
If your collection account is medical or less than $2,000, then you will not be required to pay it off in order to get approved for a home loan.
If your collection account is large and/or the collector is contacting you for payment, then negotiate a settlement with the stipulation that it will be removed from your credit report when it has been paid in full as agreed.
If you receive notice of legal action, do not ignore it! Work out a settlement, or if necessary, go to the court hearing and explain your situation. If you blow off a court hearing, then you automatically lose by default, so that is the worst thing you could do.
There are reputable, licensed credit repair companies that can help you with negotiations and legal issues. I do not recommend attorneys or lawyers (especially if they advertise all over the Internet–those are usually the worst). I recommend credit repair specialists who have over 10 years’ experience, because, in my opinion, they work faster, better, efficiently, and get better results.
Thank you for reading and passing on this info to others via shares.
Experian has announced that it wants access to view people’s bank accounts. It wants to see who you’re making debit deposits to, who you’re paying, and when. It wants to look at items that do not report to the credit bureaus.
For instance, Experian wants to look at your cell phone payment, your utility bill, your Xfinity bill, and possibly your rent payment.
They’re calling this new program “Experian Boost.”
Their excuse for gaining this extra access into your personal life is that they claim it will improve credit scores for people who have thin credit, meaning not much credit.
But here’s the problem…
The Experian Boost program uses the FICO Score 8 model, which mortgage lenders consider outdated and don’t even use anymore. Mortgage companies are using FICO10. So this spy action won’t help you qualify to buy a home.
The good news…
is that you must give Experian permission in order for them to access your bank accounts. No permission from you = no spying by Experian.
This new “pioneer program” (as Experian likes to brag) is scheduled to come out in 2019.
Build your credit profile in the very best way so that you achieve top tier credit, gain respect from everyone you do business with, and save thousands of dollars on everything from auto insurance to a home loan.
Reading this book will take you from beginner status to expert. It starts with the basic of how to get your first credit card and proceeds to insider information not many people outside the industry know. When you finish, it will be like having a college degree in credit, if there were such a thing!
It’s not enough to have top credit. You must also protect your credit and finances, because there are more scams, frauds, and schemes now than ever before. Get the tips you need for protecting yourself from rip-off artists.
Makes a good gift for young adults, immigrants to the U.S., and anyone else who wants to improve their expertise on credit scoring.
Paperback available today for only $8.99. Kindle is $5.99.
Some accounts influence your credit score more than others. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense.
Having a $300,000 mortgage is a greater responsibility than having a credit card.
Here is the order of importance/influence of type of account:
- Mortgage loans give you the most points. Always pay your home loan first and foremost. No exceptions. If you get in trouble and can’t pay all your bills, pay your mortgage on time, every time. Protect your home and your credit.
- Installment loans such as auto loans and student loans. An installment loan has a set payment and ending date. These count second for influence and importance.
- Revolving credit cards. This is ongoing credit. It is of least importance, but it is still important. Pay on time if you want a good credit score. If your score is 800 and you have one late payment on a credit card, your score can plummet by 100 points.
- Hard money loans are horrid and will negatively impact your credit score. Avoid hard money loans. These are finance company loans, cash advance loans, and payday loans that carry a high interest rate. They are rip-offs. They hurt your credit score, even if you pay on time, because only people who are “hard up” take a hard money loan.
When you understand credit, you are not at the mercy of the credit bureaus — you are in control. Create a good credit history and earn a top tier score. That way, you will save tens of thousands of dollars on everything from your mortgage to your insurance premiums. And, gain self-respect and the respect of the financial community.
Coming this fall, my new book, Build and Protect Your Credit Like the Pros. More information coming later, and not to be missed. Feel free to subscribe. I post about once/week.
Which will cost you more: Having a low credit score or getting charged with Driving While Drunk?
If you’re thinking like an insurance company, you’re going to say the low credit score is worse than the DWI. And you’re going to charge your drivers higher premiums for it.
Is that reasonable? I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be a passenger in a car with a driver who had a low score than with an intoxicated driver.
Look at this comparison of auto insurance costs for an average new insurance customer*:
Low Credit Score: $1,521 insurance premium
High Credit Score but with a DWI: $1,097 insurance premium
The person with a low credit score pays $424 more than the person with the DWI.
Keep in mind that you can have a low score simply by carrying too much credit — even if all your payments are made on time.
I have seen credit reports for physicians, dentists, and attorneys who had low scores due to carrying a lot of credit. These professionals had high incomes and could easily afford their credit. They made all payments as agreed. But, according to statistics, they have higher insurance premiums than the person driving drunk!
Does this make sense to you? I’d love to hear what you think.
In the meantime, it cannot be overstated how important it is to have a good credit score. A low score will cost you more in every financial arena, from buying a home to insurance premiums to credit card rates.
If your score is below 740, you will be wise to examine your report to determine how you can improve it and save yourself a bundle of money.
*Thanks to Chad Kusner, president of Credit Repair Resources, Inc. for the statistics.
Some of my book readers have been asking me if they should close out their extra credit cards. They may have a Visa, MasterCard, Sears, Target, Macys, Chevron, and Walmart card. They do not need all of those cards, because Visa and MasterCard will handle it all.
But my answer is NO and here’s why.
By closing the cards you already have open, you risk losing credit points.
You gain points for having a long history of credit. By closing old cards, you could lower your average length of credit.
You gain points for using a small portion of your available credit. This is calculated in two ways:
1) A low balance-to-limit ratio on an individual card.
2) A low balance-to-available credit ratio on all your cards.
If you close out all your store cards that you don’t need, you could hurt your score per #2 above. Your balance-to-available credit ratio could go up (depending on your remaining credit).
So, in general, if you have extra cards you don’t need, let them set open and unused. That way, you won’t risk losing points.
What If You Only Have Three Credit Cards?
If you only have two or three credit cards, that is enough and you do not need to seek out more. If you have two credit cards, plus one other trade line on your credit report, such as an auto loan or student loan, then that’s perfect. You have three accounts showing on your credit report, which is what you want for a conventional mortgage loan.
Best practice for a high credit score is to keep your balance-to-limit ratio low on all your credit cards. I suggest keeping it at 30% or less. Never go over 50%, because that will dock points. And never, ever max out your cards!
Thank you for reading this post. Feel free to pass it on to others via social media, because a lot of folks are using too much credit without realizing it is hurting their scores.
Tired of being hounded by collectors? Fed up with being harassed for payment on an account that’s already been paid or is unverified? There is good news on the horizon!
The CFPB (Consumer Finance Protection Bureau) is proposing rule changes to the debt collection industry as follows:
- Debt collectors will be required to disclose debt details so the consumer can easily verify accuracy right up front. Currently, consumers receive a bill demanding payment without ever proving whether or not the collector has the right to receive payment, whether or not the amount owed is correct, and other vital information. This will provide transparency and, hopefully, increase accuracy and fairness.
- Debt collectors will be prohibited from pursuing a debt while it is in dispute. Fantastic!
- Debt collectors will be limited in their communication with the consumer. The intent is to stop undue harassment.
In the meantime, know your rights and demand to be treated fairly and accurately. If you don’t want to be contacted by telephone, tell the collector to contact you by mail only. Current law states they must comply.
You also have the right to negotiate a settlement. And so you know, a settlement (as opposed to paying in full) will in no way harm your credit score or jeopardize your ability to get a home loan. Even if you have to pay taxes on the amount “forgiven,” you still come out financially ahead by taking a settlement.
However, if the collection is old, paying it off now will likely lower your credit score, so better to let it age off your report (or handle it like the pros do).
What I mean by that is, if you negotiate a settlement the way the professional credit repair specialists do, you can also have the negative account removed from your credit report–a very smart strategy!
Thank you for reading my post, and if you know anyone who is struggling with collections, please pass on this good and vital information to them.
A credit inquiry is when a creditor (such as Visa, a bank, a landlord) pulls your credit report. Lately, people have been asking me how much this hurts their credit score and why. Here are the facts.
Too Many Hard Inquiries Hurt Your Score
A hard inquiry is when you apply for credit. If you applied for three credit cards during the holidays in order to save on your purchase, your credit score has been hit. Why? Because the credit bureaus do not know how you are going to use this new credit, whether or not you will max out your cards, or if you will pay on time. Also, when a person suddenly applies for a lot of new credit, it is a concern as to whether or not they will be able to afford the new, upcoming bills. Therefore, your score is temporarily lowered for six months until you have established your record with these new cards.
The Exception: When Hard Inquiries Will Not Hurt Your Score
On the contrary, you can apply for a mortgage or car loan with three companies in a short time span (less than 45 days) without it hurting your score. Why? Because the credit bureaus do not think you are getting ready to buy three new houses or cars. They assume you are shopping for the best deal.
That said, if you have six or more mortgage inquiries, it is going to raise a red flag to the underwriter approving your loan. Why? Because, as I explained in Mortgage Rip-Offs and Money Savers, shopping three lenders is sufficient. If you apply for a mortgage with many lenders, it looks like everyone is turning you down. That makes other lenders ask why no one wants to lend to you. You will then need to write a letter of explanation for your loan file.
Soft Inquiries Do Not Affect Your Credit Score
A soft credit inquiry is any of the following:
- You request your own credit report.
- An employer pulls your credit report.
- Your current credit card company looks at your credit report to check how you are managing your credit. (Yes, they have the legal right to do this.)
- Creditors troll your credit report to see if you are a good candidate to send a solicitation to. (To stop this annoying practice, go to http://www.optoutprescreen.com and get off creditors’ mailing lists.)
Don’t concern yourself with soft credit inquiries. They do not hurt your score in any way.
Unauthorized Hard Credit Inquiries
It is illegal for any creditor or lender to pull your credit report without your knowledge and consent. As a licensed, ethical loan officer, I ask every person who wants to get pre-approved for financing to give me their permission to order their credit report before I do so. And then, I make a record of this permission, whether it was by email, in writing on a form, or verbally, with the date. Other ethical loan officers do the same.
If a mortgage lender, bank, credit union, credit card company, or other loan company pulled a hard inquiry on your credit report without your permission, you have the legal right to have that inquiry removed from your report so that it does not harm your score.
First, contact the creditor to make sure you are correct about the hard inquiry. Then if they cannot provide you with your consent verification, ask them to send you and the credit bureaus a signed letter on company letterhead that requests the inquiry to be removed.
How Much Do Inquiries Lower Your Score?
The credit bureaus claim that an inquiry impacts your score only by about five points. However, in real life, it’s a different story.
One credit repair specialist tells me he has seen credit scores lowered by 15 points after several hard inquiries (such as multiple credit card inquiries). Another credit repair specialist said he saw a client’s credit score increase by 24 points after unauthorized hard inquiries were removed.
The higher your credit score, the more inquiries impact your score, because there are not other factors such as late payments and collections docking your score.
If you have a low credit score due to negative credit, then inquiries are the least of your worries. Work on establishing on-time payments and lowering your credit card balances to below 30% of the limit first, because those are your priorities.
For more information about how credit attorneys and certified credit repair specialists legally delete bad credit and restore your good name, please see here.
Thank you for reading my blog. I do my best to inform people of the facts about achieving “A” credit, because the American finance system is dependent on credit. Unless you are wealthy and will pay cash for everything — including a home — having a good credit score is essential.
Thank you, Kristina Mastrocola, writer, for the interview.
In case you can’t read the article here, it is on page 26, the August 22 issue, which is on newsstands now.
I hope these tips will help people understand that they can take control of their credit and create the score they desire. There is no need to be a victim when it comes to your credit profile.
What’s more, you are not required to have perfect credit in order to get a home loan. Recently, I helped a first-time home owner who had six open collection accounts close on a charming three-bedroom, ranch style home–and she did not have to pay off the petty collections (total under $2,000) in order to do so.
As always, thank you for subscribing to my blog. If you have a topic on mortgage, home buying, or credit that you’d like to see, please email me here.
FHA – Federal Housing Administration
(Often referred to as a first-time home buyer’s loan; although, you needn’t be a first time buyer to get it.)
580 to 620 (depending on the lender and other credit factors)
(Program designed for first-time buyers with average or below incomes.)
Conventional 3% down
VA – Veterans Administration
500 to 620 (depending on the lender and other credit factors)
USDA – U.S. Dept. of Agriculture
640 (most lenders)
No score required with sufficient down payment (Usually 30% to 40% down payment required. Interest rates from 8% to 12%.)
IMPORTANT TO KNOW
- Lenders use your mortgage credit score, not the consumer credit score you get from a free site.
- Lenders use the middle score of three. Scores are not averaged together.
- When there are two or more people on the loan, the score of the person with the lowest score is used.
- Credit score is only one factor in credit qualification. Other factors are public records (such as foreclosure, bankruptcy, judgements, liens), last 12 months’ pay history, etc.
BUY NOW OR WAIT FOR A HIGHER CREDIT SCORE?
Is it better to buy a home with a low score and higher interest rate, or does it make sense to wait until your credit has improved?
That depends, but in general, if you can raise your score in three
months, it is better to wait and take the lower interest rate. On the other hand, if it is going to take a year or longer to raise your score and if house pricing are rising in your neighborhood, then I would buy the house now and refinance in a year or two. That way, you can build wealth in equity while your credit is improving. Most people cannot save money as fast as prices are going up. That said, it is an individual situation that you should discuss with your loan officer.